Former Marine Chris Hernandez makes the case that there are plenty of cowards in war zones, and the French aren’t among them, so why continue to smear them? It’s the American way to honor courage, so let’s walk the talk. His thoughts are even more ominous now that assessments coming out of the U.S. Army indicate a shocking level of unreadiness for war, poor morale and a concerted effort from the top civilian leadership (*cough*) to purge all competent military brass. The following are excerpts from Chris’s article published in Breach Bang Clear. You can also read the entire article on his blog.
Almost every time I tell someone I worked with the French, I get comments like, “You mean the French have an army?”, “Did they surrender to you the day you got there?”, or some other variation of the “cheese-eating surrender monkey” theme. And if they don’t outright insult French troops, they usually dismiss my experience by saying, “Oh, you must have been working with the Foreign Legion. They’re not really French.”
Those comments really get on my nerves. And they’re flat out wrong. I served with a few Legionnaires and a lot of regular French troops. Whatever the French public’s or government’s politics are, their soldiers are brave, well-trained, in fantastic shape and aggressive. Describing those men as cowards is an absolutely unfair characterization.
… I arrived in Afghanistan six months after that ambush. Over the next nine months, I went on numerous patrols and reconnaissance missions with the French Mountain Troops and Marines. I learned to speak French well enough that I was able to relay information between American and French radio networks. At times I was the only American on French missions. My worries about working with them were completely unfounded, and since then I get pretty angry whenever I hear tired, old “Frenchmen are cowards” remarks.
One Small Way the French Leadership Makes Us Look Stoopid
We in the US military are often treated like mentally-slow kindergartners. I think every last soldier in the US Army becomes homicidally violent at the thought of wearing a reflective belt in a combat zone. I used to shake my head at new unit commanders in Bagram who ordered their soldiers to travel everywhere inside the wire with a battle buddy, even to a porta-john right outside their tent. Many of us, especially senior NCOs, bristle at the hand-holding, “you’re too stupid to trust” mentality that has permeated the Army.
And don’t even get me started on General Order number One, the prohibition on alcohol. I don’t drink, but just about everyone else in the world does. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to allow grown men and women to escape the stress of war with a beer or two. Apparently our command thinks if they allow us to drink we’ll all go on kill-crazy rampages a la Robert Bales. The thought of moderate alcohol use under controlled conditions induces an automatic brain aneurism in our senior leaders.
This is just the beginning ruminations (grunts: rumination) of my experience with the French Army. In Part 2 I’ll talk about a one-week mission patrol with a French recon patrol, wine on base and their take on sex, sexual harassment and naughtiness.
At Left: A typical hangout with the French and Afghans. Americans drink soda instead of alcohol to avoid offending Afghans, who of course are drinking alcohol with the French.